Thursday, 18 April 2013

1932 Guide Book to the Channel Islands: St Helier to Mont Orgueil by the Coast

A few more extracts from the 1932 Guide Book to the Channel Islands.

It makes me pine for the railway, which is mentioned time and again. And the bathing cabins at Gorey!

There is an inaccuracy in the text. Grouville Church (St Martin of Grouville) is much older than 1322 as stated in the Guide Book. It was already a Parish Church before the Battle of Hastings, for it was one of the eight Jersey Churches which Duke William robbed of half their tithes to endow the Abbey of Montvilliers, and this is documented. The first Rector of Grouville listed in the records is much later, now thought to be around 1342, and this may have confused the compiler.

It's also worth noting that Rocqueberg, or the Witch's Rock appears in at least two different folk-tales about witches, and there is supposed to be the cloven hoof imprint of the devil on the rock. These stories however do not go back to the time of the witch trials, and are later fictions.

Mont Ube Dolmen, which is the dolmen here referred to as Samares Dolmen, was once used as a pig sty. Like all the dolmens, it would have had capstones, but those were broken up by blasting for cheap building material.

1932 Guide Book to the Channel Islands: St Helier to Mont Orgueil by the Coast
The four coasts of this almost rectangular island present a choice variety of scenery, and the interior is characterized by numerous valleys of great loveliness. In order systematically to describe the whole, we begin with sections of the coast, and subsequently refer in detail to the valleys and other inland scenery.
By referring to the index, a description of all the places visited by the motor-coaches will easily be found. For the order in which the coast sections and valleys are described, see the Contents page.
As a coast walk or cycle ride this route offers many attractions. The road closely follows the sea, it is practically level, the Castle is an object of special interest, and the train, which keeps the road close company all the way, can be utilized if desired. Finally, the return journey can be made by a much shorter route inland. Details of the railway will be found on p. 29.
Leaving the promenade around the South Fort, we proceed along the road fronting Havre des Pas, or we can walk over the sands should the tide be out.
After passing the skeleton iron lighthouse, we reach the end of the sandy beach, and arrive at a few fishermen's cottages, with a road leading inland through the village of Samares to the station (half a mile from the coast), close to which are two points of interest, referred to below in paragraphs (a.) and (b).
Before turning inland, note the large, red, gabled house on the beach, with round tower. In the grounds (approached from the road and not from the beach) is a huge mass of granite about 40 feet high called the Witches' Rock, from the tradition that on it the Jersey witches held their Sabbath and their dances at the time of full moon. What is more noteworthy here is the beach, for the rock pools exhibit marvellously coloured anemones of large size, a dark mauve creature being a general favourite on account of its long tentacles, size and colour, and because it is easily found.
If the coast-line be taken, an inn (Le Hocq Hotel) is reached in about three-quarters of a mile, close to Le Hocq station.  A short distance beyond is Pontac.
Proceeding half a mile inland to Samares station we can visit-
(a) Samares Dolmen.-Route: Cross railway close to station; cross main road and keep straight on until a path is reached leading up some steps on the right of the road. This path leads to the Dolmen, composed of two rows of upright stones. Though not the best on the Island, it is worth a visit.
(b) Samares Manor-House.-On the main road to St. Helier, a little to the west of Samares station. Fine view of old manor-house from the road. The round ivy-covered tower in the grounds is all that remains of the early eleventh-century mansion.
Instead of returning directly to the sea, we can walk along the main road eastward, and in three-quarters of a mile reach St. Clement's Church. Features of interest within are the font and the frescoes on the walls of the north and south transepts and nave. They were discovered in 1879 under the plaster. The picture in the nave represents St. Michael and the Dragon, and is by far the best preserved.
From the church take the road due south for a short half-mile to Pontac. We now face charming St. Clement's Bay, the eastern point of which is called La Platte Rocque. Here Rullecour and his men landed on January 5, 1781, and afterwards a few English and French met in a desperate fight.
The French had been left behind by Rullecour, probably to guard the transport vessels whilst their leader and the main body went forward to St. Helier, where they were defeated and made prisoners (see p. 39). Platte Rocque has a small harbour.
Continuing by the coast road and now turning northward, we pass tower after tower built for the protection of the islands during the Napoleonic scare. The scenery is pretty, for Grouville Bay is of fine proportions, and Mont Orgueil forms the extremity.
Grouville (Hotel: Grouville Hall) is happily placed, with Golf Links on the Common (see p. 30).
Three-quarters of a mile inland lies Grouville Church, dating from 1322. In its God's acre is the grave of seven privates of the 83rd Regiment, "who gloriously fell in the midst of their victorious companions at La Platte Rocque on the 6th of January, 1781."
Grouville Common merges into Gorey Common, and we reach Gorey Village, close to the sea, and with several popular tea and luncheon rooms. Gorey has a delightful stretch of sands. There are several cabins for bathers.
At Gorey Pier are two hotels and a small harbour, behind and above which rises the mass of grass-streaked granite on which is built the Castle. A short, steep pathway leads up to it, commencing by the weighbridge. From Gorey Pier, a motor-launch runs at advertised times during summer to Carteret (p. 183). 


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